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NCAA Basketball Big East BasketballConnecticut Huskies

Connecticut Huskies: Despite Loss to Marquette, UConn Shows They’re No Pushover

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Connecticut Huskies might have lost their Big East schedule opener against the Marquette Golden Eagles, however the team proved they’ll be no easy out.

The Huskies lost a hard fought overtime battle that saw multiple lead changes before Marquette managed to pull out an 82-76 win in the extra period.

Connecticut trailed by as many as ten at one point in the second half before an 8-0 run by Shabazz Napier tied the game at 57-57. Napier matched a career-high finishing with 29 points, to go along with eight rebounds, and four assists. The guard’s play sparked the run that brought the Huskies back into the game when Marquette appeared to be on the verge of pulling away on their home court.

Ryan Boatright nailed a jumper with seconds remaining that gave the Huskies a 69-66 lead before Marquette’s Junior Cadougan nailed a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer forcing overtime.

After only having five points on 2 for 4 shooting in the first half, Boatright picked up his performance in the second half. The six-foot guard finished with 16 points, going 7 for 14 from the floor, along with recording six assists.

The combination of Napier and Boatright continue to average nearly 50% of Connecticut’s total offense.

Connecticut’s two leading scorers combine for 432 of the team’s 924 total points through 13 games, averaging 46.7% of the offense.

The downfall for the Huskies in the Big East will be their lack of any real significant front court presence, but the team’s backcourt have proven they’ll fight until the end of every game. Connecticut easily could have quit and waited to go home when the Golden Eagles came on strong to begin the second half. However, Napier and Boatright brought the team back and if it wasn’t for Cadougan’s fluke three-pointer (he’s averaging 16.7% from downtown), the Huskies would have opened their conference schedule with a win.

If any Big East competition thinks their walking into a game against sleeping dogs, they’ll quickly find out Napier and Boatright have plenty of bite to back up their bark. Despite having little to play for given the school’s post-season bans this season, the duo showed again Marquette their non-conference play averages aren’t likely to go down. Napier is averaging 17.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists while Boatright is posting 15.7 points, 4.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds through 13 games.

Coach Kevin Ollie better have given his backcourt a big thank you after his recent contract extension. After all, it’s been his two guards that have led to the 10-3 record and it’ll continue to be the guards that keep the team competitive.

The Huskies might not be a top team in the conference, but Napier and Boatright showed tonight they are more than capable of stealing a win on the opposition’s home court.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts